The Fireman, by Joe Hill (spoilers and review)

Hello, all!

I recently finished reading The Fireman by Joe Hill, and this book left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. It didn’t help that I read it during the ‘rona hysteria.. Well, on with the spoilers, because I can’t talk about it otherwise.

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The cat chewed on the corner of the book. must have been yummy.

Spoilers ahead

Most of the story in the book spans 9 months, though perhaps the total span would be some 13 months? 

The gist of the story is that a pandemic started. There is no cure and nobody knowing what’s causing it. Those infected end up burning alive and risk causing a chain reaction of instant combustion when other infected people are around, and they get scared.

Nurse Harper Willowes works in a school, at first, but soon she has to work in a hospital where the infected are taken. She befriends a single person here who turns to be a good friend for her throughout the book. One day her friend runs away from the hospital as she  was infected and thought she would ignite. She manages at the beginning of the book to help a mute kid get an appendicitis surgery, and seems to fall in love with the guy in a fireman suit, who brought the kid over. 

Later, the whole hospital ignites, and Harper barely manages to escape alive. Her husband comes to search for her, and once he find her, takes her home. There, they spend the best times of their lives, and making plans. Until one day when she realizes that she’s pregnant. Then she realizes she got infected.

Her husband loses his mind, and starts showing a different side of his. He leaves the house for some time, to make sure he’s not infected. While he’s away, Harper finds a novel he was trying to write, and discovers his true feelings for her. He returns with the intention of killing her and then himself, but she manages to escape. The guy who brought the kid to the hospital is the one helping her escape.

He takes her to a camp where the infected learned how to live with the illness without combusting. Through a series of events, the Fireman gets seriously injured, the leader of the camp dies, and Harper is forced to once again try to escape to stay alive, despite being almost 9 months pregnant. She manages to escape with the Fireman, her friend, and 2 children. They try to find an island where apparently the infected are welcomed and can live in peace. En route, Harper’s husband finds them, seriously injures the Fireman, and then dies.

The group makes it to the location where they can take the boat to the island, and they get a bit of rest and some food. On the boat, they realize the food was loaded with sleeping pills, and that their real destination was the bottom of the ocean. The Fireman is killed in the end, and |Harper gives birth in the freezing water. She, her baby, er friend and the 2 kids get rescued by another survivor of their camp, and all think of what to do next. 

The end.

What I liked about the book

I found this book pretty easy to read. I read some 400 pages in a single day and if you were to know me, you’d know I’m a slow reader. Therefore, i think this is a decent reading achievement.

My copy of the book is pretty thick and the writing is not large either. These factors usually slow down the reading process.

What I disliked about the book

Oh, man. Reading this novel during the ‘rona hysteria was unsettling. So, time-wise couldn’t be worse. This aspect made me dislike the book.

Aside from the bad timing, the end… The end carried such a punch… such a bitter ending. 😦

What’s there to like?

The fact that those people were promoting an island for the infected was not suspicious at all to anyone. The ad was saying that some 600 infected were on the island. But where did they fit? how big was that island? How come nobody thought about this?? Were they stupid?


The rating for this book is 2 stars out of 5. The 2 stars come from a decently well written story and the easiness to read the whole novel. If you want to read it, perhaps borrow it first, and buy it only if you like the story.

Just make sure there’s no other pandemic going on.

©Charly Cross 2013 – present. All rights reserved.

photo of coffee mug on top of book

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